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Lake life

Hurricane hits D’Arbonne

Eric and Leann Howard caught these D’Arbonne slabs on Bobby Garland crappie baits, HH rods and 500 series spinning reels loaded with K9 line.

You want to know what’s going on with the weather and lake conditions for Crappie Masters week? It’s not a monsoon. It’s not a Nor’easter. It’s a Florida Hurricane. No kidding.

At least that’s what friends of Eric Howard are going to say. Eric “Hurricane” Howard and his wife Leann are at Lake D’Arbonne to fish the Louisiana State Championship all the way from Callahan, Florida. A Florida “Hurricane” has hit Lake D’Arbonne!

“Oh yeah, I’m going to get a hard time about that,” Hurricane said Tuesday. “It seems like everywhere we go fishing Crappie Masters it rains or storms about 80% of the time. “I don’t mind it though. When my wife and I started fishing the circuit, we talked about what we needed to do for fun and this is it. We have a blast, rain or shine.”

Crappie Masters weighmaster Brian Sower actually gave him the nickname at a tournament weigh-in last year, “mostly because of my personality but I guess because of the weather, too” Howard says. Despite the weather, the H’s are loving the fishing on the 16,000 acre Union Parish lake, as witnessed by the two slaps shown above. It was 36 degrees Monday, not your typical Florida spring day. But it was better than the monsoon, I mean Hurricane, that hit Tuesday. At least the “eye” of the hurricane appears to have given us a reprieve on Wednesday!

Howard and Leann not only love to crappie fish, but they are invested in the sport as owners and operaters of HH Rod and Reels, home of the — you can guess — Hurricane Howard pushing and pulling rods. You can check them out on their website:


Wednesday will give the fishermen a good chance to see what’s going on with the fish. Expect varied results. One of the main questions folks are asking right now is “what will these conditions do to the fishing?”. Near as I can tell, here’s a pretty good explanation.

Right now, the full moon is making the fish feel like it’s time to head for the shallows and start spawning. But the rising water and dropping water temperatures are making them feel like they’ve got a hangover. The main thing that is happening is the conditions are scattering out the big ones more than normal, so it will be tough putting together two 7-fish limits of two pounders. Expect to see lots of two pounders and several pushing three pounds, but just not as many as you would have seen a week ago.

You’ll probably see fish caught in the channel, along the creeks, deep on the mid-range flats and on occasion, a few early fish going shallow, especially Friday and early Saturday when the temps are going to be back in the high 60’s again. They’ll be caught on shiners, jigs with plastic tails, and lots of combinations of both of those.

The biggest problem is that cold and muddy water with current is the worst combination you can have on D’Arbonne for crappie fishing.

The big lake area will now probably receive a lot more attention, too, which will put too many boats on some areas for fantastic catches. There would have been some great catches up the creeks, but with all this rain, that may get wiped out. Cold, muddy and current are all compounded up the creeks. Gusting winds (not quite Hurricane strength) will make the big lake tough Saturday.

If all this pushes the fish out of the deeper water and into up on the flats against their will, the fish will just get a headache and pretty much tell the anglers, “not today, sweetheart.” Anglers will have to slow down and fish deep.

Fishing in the rain isn’t necessarily bad. But when it’s a cold rain, it drives the water temperature down and that isn’t good. Instead of slowly rising water temps, D’Arbonne’s water temp is slowly going lower heading into the tournament. That’s not good. Last year during the tournament the water temperature went from 56 to 59 during the event. This year, it’s around 54-55 and dropping.

The crazy conditions also take away some of the advantage of local contenders. They know the lake, but terrible conditions can even the playing field. M of the traveling pros saw these conditions last year and now they know what to do. In addition, the local guys fish in bad weather some, but not nearly as much as the traveling pros. It’s nothing unusual for them to fish in any kind of conditions week in and week out.

  • Nobody knows for sure how much it will rain this week, but right now based on their best predictions, the USGS says the lake will crest Saturday at 81.7 feet, which is below the “action level” (82.2) for flooding concerns. They are usually pretty accurate. There is more than an inch of rain predicted again Thursday and Friday. It looks like the fishermen will get hit with some 10-18 mph SSW winds late in the morning Saturday, too.

And, the remainder of the week’s forecast:


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